Best of the Best Honored with 2012 WAVE Awards

More than 4,500 votes from travel agents were cast this year


LOS ANGELES — A total of 133 companies, individuals and destinations were celebrated by the readers of TravelAge West as part of the TravelAge West WAVE (Western Agents’ Votes of Excellence) Awards held June 7 in Beverly Hills, Calif., at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills. Honorees were recognized in 49 categories that spanned the cruise, tour operator, airline, hotel and resort, rail vacation and destination travel fields. The annual awards gave travel agents in the Western U.S. the opportunity to recognize the outstanding qualities and services of their travel supplier partners.

In addition, top travel agents were honored in three categories as part of the 2012 Trendsetters Awards, also presented at the gala. Categories included: Upward Bound, RockStar Agent Under 40, Best Group Booking Sales Effort, and Industry Activist - Notable Achievements in Support of Travel Agents.

More than 4,500 travel agent professionals throughout the 14 Western states and readers of TravelAge West voted on the best-of-the-best from a list of Editor’s Pick award recipients that were chosen after careful review by TravelAge West Editor-in-Chief Kenneth Shapiro and the editorial team of TravelAge West. Review methods included product analysis, on-site visits, a survey of a select group of travel agents and online research.

“Travelers in the West have a unique perspective and they are very travel savvy,” said Shapiro, “so Western travel agents need to work with the best companies in the industry in order to please their customers. As the number-one travel trade magazine in this dynamic region, we look forward to the opportunity to acknowledge the hotels, cruise companies, tour operators, destinations and others  that go above and beyond.”

New to this year’s WAVE Awards, TravelAge West introduced the ‘Excellence in Leadership Award’ honoring an individual who, in the course of their career in travel and tourism, has consistently demonstrated leadership and insight, effected change or innovation and made extraordinary contributions to both organizations and the industry at large. The 2012 TravelAge West Excellence in Leadership Award honoree is Michelle Morgan, President of Signature Travel Network.

At the black-tie event, guests dined on a four-course meal while being treated to a multimedia presentation of the award recipients. 

“The WAVE Awards acknowledge companies that have consistently demonstrated excellence within the travel marketplace,” said Jack Grant, publisher of TravelAge West. “The awards celebrate the best of the best in travel as picked by travel agents who are true experts in the field.”

A list of this year’s WAVE Award winners, as well as a list of Trendsetter Award Recipients, follows.

TravelAge West ( has been serving the travel industry for over 40 years as a leading source of travel industry news and product information. Read by travel agents, travel suppliers and travel industry professionals, the publication has a circulation of over 22,000 readers in 14 Western U.S. states. 

2012 WAVE Award Recipients


Best Airline, Domestic
Delta Air Lines

Best Airline, International
Singapore Airlines

Best North American Rail Vacation Provider
Rocky Mountaineer

Best Tour Operator, Escorted
Globus Family of Brands

Best Tour Operator, FIT
Travel Impressions

Best Tour Operator, Africa
Abercrombie & Kent

Best Tour Operator, Asia
Pacific Delight Tours

Best Tour Operator, Middle East

Best Tour Operator, Australia/New Zealand/South Pacific
Qantas Vacations

Best Tour Operator, Hawaii
Pleasant Holidays

Best Tour Operator, Mexico
Apple Vacations

Best Tour Operator, USA/Canada
Collette Vacations

Best Tour Operator, Europe

Best Tour Operator, Central/South America

Most Knowledgeable Tour Operator Reservations Staff
Globus Family of Brands

Tour Operator Providing the Best Travel Agent Support
Globus Family of Brands

Best New Ship (ocean-going)
Celebrity Silhouette 

Best New Ship (river cruise)
Super Ship Antoinette, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection

Cruise Line Providing the Highest Client Satisfaction (more than 1,100 passengers)
Celebrity Cruises

Cruise Line Providing the Highest Client Satisfaction (less than 1,100 passengers)
Crystal Cruises

Cruise Line Providing the Best Travel Agent Support
Royal Caribbean International 

Best Overall Cruise Line for River Cruising
Viking River Cruises

River Cruise Line Providing the Best Travel Agent Support
Viking River Cruises

Best Onboard Entertainment
Royal Caribbean International

Best Line for Cruise Value (ocean-going)
Norwegian Cruise Line

Best Line for Cruise Value (river cruise)

Best Onboard Teen Program
Royal Caribbean International

Best World Cruise
Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Best New Resort or Major Renovation, Caribbean
Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) 

Best New Resort or Major Renovation, Hawaii
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa (Oahu)

Best New Resort or Major Renovation, Mexico
Azul Fives Hotel, by Karisma (Cancun)

Hotel/Resort Chain Providing the Best Travel Agent Support
Starwood Hotels and Resorts

Best Hotel Children’s Program, Hawaii
Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa (Oahu)

Best Resort Spa, Hawaii
Spa at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai at Historic Kaupulehu (Hawaii Island)

Best Resort Spa, Mexico
Spa at Four Seasons Resort Punta Mita (Punta Mita)

Best Resort Spa, Caribbean
Red Lane Spa at Sandals Royal Bahamian (the Bahamas)

Destination With the Highest Client Satisfaction, Asia

Destination With the Highest Client Satisfaction, Europe

Best Hawaiian Island for Outdoor Activities

Best Destination for a Destination Wedding

Favorite Three-Night Destination to Sell
Las Vegas

Best Mexico Destination for a Cultural Experience
Riviera Maya

Best of the West: Best Western Destination for a Ski Vacation
Vail (Colorado)


Favorite Individual Hotel Sales Representative
Diane Fraser, Aston Hotels & Resorts

Favorite Individual Tour Operator Sales Representative
Susan Creighton, Travel Impressions

Favorite Individual River Cruise Sales Representative
Michael Weldon, Viking River Cruises

Favorite Individual Cruise Sales Representative
Jeff Geston, Celebrity Cruises

International Tourist Board Providing the Best Travel Agent Support
Jamaica Tourist Board

TravelAge West 2012 Trendsetter Award Recipients

Best Group Booking Sales Effort 
Winner: Debra Kerper, Easy Access Travel
Runner Up: Maureen Dinnocenzo, Above & Beyond Travel

Upward Bound, RockStar Agent Under 40 
Winner: Ryan McGredy, Moraga Travel
Runner Up: Daniela Harrison, Avenues of the World Travel

Industry Activist, Notable Achievements in Support of Travel Agents 
Winner: Jason Coleman, Jason Coleman, Inc.
Runner Up: Marc Kassouf, PRIDE Travel

Adventure Travel JDS Africa Middle East JDS Destinations